Revelers usher in 2014 with fireworks, festivities

Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:39pm EST
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By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From Sydney to Dubai, revelers welcomed 2014 with extravagant fireworks displays, while London prepared to celebrate by spraying clouds of fruit-flavored mist and Chicago and San Francisco planned massive outdoor celebrations.

In New York, about one million people were expected to gather in Times Square for the New Year's Eve street party as Miley Cyrus, Melissa Etheridge and hip-hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis headline the festivities and the dropping of a 11,875-pound, crystal-encrusted ball marks the start of 2014.

"We've been living on granola bars and little bottles of water, because if you move, you lose your spot," said Sheila Harshbarger, who had traveled from Indiana with her daughter and staked out her ground next to a row of police barricades in the frigid cold more than 14 hours before midnight.

There will be no crystal ball for Brasstown, in the mountains of North Carolina. At midnight it will hold its 20th New Year's Eve "possum drop" - in which a caged opossum is displayed in a Plexiglas container for spectators.

"If New York can drop a ball... then we can lower the opossum," organizers explained on their website.

The event got a last-minute go-ahead after a judge refused a plea by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to stop the event.

Across the northern United States, partygoers braced for snow and freezing temperatures. Chicago, which could see a significant snow storm amid its flurry of festivities, was offering free rides on trains and buses from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. to ensure revelers make it home safely.

In San Francisco, one of the last places in the world to see the clock strike midnight, some 200,000 people will gather on the waterfront for a fireworks display illuminating the city's world famous Golden Gate Bridge.   Continued...

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during a pyrotechnic show to celebrate the New Year in Hong Kong January 1, 2014. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu